Friday, May 30, 2008

Deja Vu in reverse...

It seems like yesterday we were packing up to come here and now it is reverse. We are looking forward to seeing everyone, but we are shedding a few tears saying goodbye to those we are close to here. See ya, Lord willing, in Seattle on Sunday (or sometime thereafter!)

Don't forget to vote on the pictures!

Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Celebrating the Graduates

It is graduation time at the Allen Academy for Girls! Steve and Stephanie are proud to announce their graduates (complete with new haircuts!)

Kamryn Anne Allen has graduated from the 3rd grade. She is a "joy to have in class" (remember that comment on report cards? I got that one a lot! :)) She is a very creative thinker, loves to read, and can create an art project out of anything that you give her. She enjoyed studying the New Testament, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome this year in History. In Bible she learned about the time of the Judges up through Kings. In home economics, Kamryn has learned to make an incredible gluten-free pancake. Her creativity is always interesting as sometimes they have cocoa and sometimes sprinkles, and sometimes she just experiments with the recipe. I, as her teacher, am so glad that I will get to have her again in
4th grade.
Favorite Subject: Spelling
Favorite Book you/or we read: All of them (really, she loves to read and it is too hard to narrow)
Hardest thing to do in math: Percentages
Favorite Bible Story: The one where Jesus heals the little girl
Most hated character in History: Nero (He persecuted Christians)
Favorite after-school activity at LICS: Recorder
What you are most looking forward to about next school year: Doing more science

Bradyn Ashley Allen has graduated from the 1st grade. Bradyn is also a "joy to have in class" and loves to learn new things. She especially loves her math...(not really, but she is good at it). Bradyn excels in spelling and reading, and is the best at getting her work done fast so that she can go play with Julia. In home economics Bradyn would make Martha Stewart proud. She is an excellent organizer and sorter. She can make any messy bookshelf look GREAT!! Next year she will be in a Kindgerarten/2nd/4th grade split class with her sisters. And, yes, you guessed correctly, it is my privilege to teach this split class.
Favorite Subject: Handwriting
Hardest thing to do in Math: Multiplication
Coolest spelling word you learned: D-E-L-A-Y
Favorite Bible Verse: Do to others as you would want them to do to you.
Favorite book we read: Ballet Shoes
Favorite After School Activity at LICS: Arts and Crafts
What you are most looking forward to about next year: Cursive Handwriting

Julia Carol Allen has graduated from our very unstructured pre-school program. She ran this program herself and did an AMAZING job. Julia is a highly skilled puzzle doer, excellent painter and colorer, and she has a highly creative brain that enjoys playing with Playmobil, Little People, and ponies. It is always a joy to hear Julia singing (she composes her own music and lyrics) as she plays in the room next to us as we work. (She has provided many laughs!) Julia is a great kitchen-helper. She has a special place on the counter and if there is cooking going on, you can be sure to find her there. She has mastered the art of egg-cracking and is quite adept at making ice-cubes. She looks forward to being tall enough to do the dishes with her sisters. (This is true!) She looks forward to learning to read and write next year, and especially to having her oldest sister teach her Math.
Favorite thing to play during school: PlayMobile
Favorite Art project: Play-doh
Favorite outdoor activity: Bradyn
Favorite puzzle: Winnie the Pooh
Favorite thing to help with in the kitchen: Helping bake cookies
What you are most looking forward to about next year: Painting

Steve and I celebrate these three graduates and our hearts are bursting with love and admiration of them in all of their uniqueness. They have made an amazing transition into Zambia and have truly "fully-experienced" life here with enthusiasm and joy. We are very proud of them!

A slideshow of our year in Africa

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Songs for the ride home that will always sing Africa to us

In the midst of the chaos of packing and checking off last minute details, I found myself reminiscing a bit over the year that was in Zambia... I created a playlist to listen to some music on our Ipod on the way home. This year, with our Ipod and little station dock thing, from running to washing dishes to worshipping during family devotions, music has played a big part of our time here. From the time when Stephanie was lying in bed after a month of being sick, singing "Take my Life" through tears, to dancing crazy around the house in family devotions to "House of the Lord" to jiving in the car to "I'll Fly Away" these old and new songs have somehow connected us to Africa and the experience of Africa to us. "Where the Streets have no name" literally to "God of this City," our hearts feel the suffering and pain of Africa. We have ourselves gone through trials and confusion and discouragement and again and again, coming to the place where we surrender to follow Him... "Alabaster Jar" "All the way the Savior leads me" and "Empty Me" speak to this heart's cry. And the idea of Heaven... "Revelation's song" is incredibly powerful... Lastly, a song from Steven Curtis Chapman about his daughters... Especially in light of the tragedy in his world, may it remind us all to love our kids well. I think of the many things that I have loved about our time in Africa, one that stands out to me is how I have am learning how to lead our family and pastor my own kids. What a blessing they are to me and I don't want to miss out on the dance...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Making Progress??

Last night Steve and I were "musing" a bit. The cause of our "musing" was that as I was preparing dinner, the power went out. I was making Thai green chicken curry. I had just started the rice and was starting the sauce when the power went off. After gathering my candles and lighting them so that I could see what I was doing, I asked Steve to go ask Lungu to start up the brazier (pronounced bray-zer, yes I have made the mistake of pronouncing it brah-zeer). I then continued with my preparations chopping my broccoli and cutting up my meat by candlelight. Soon, the coals were hot and I was able to finish my sauce and rice over the hot charcoal. As we were sitting on the porch cooking we got to talking. I said that I thought I was making progress because it didn't even phase me when the power went out. (We have really come to enjoy our candlelit dinners.) When we first started having our regular power outages it would really throw me for a loop when it would go out at dinner time. You see, we can't just have a PB&J sandwich with our gluten allergies. So, that means either cook over the brazier or have cornflakes....which we have also done quite a bit. Steve said, "I think coming to Africa is like our training for the marathon. You build up your endurance over time." I definitely agree with this statement. As I look back on the past 9 months, the first few months were definitely the hardest as far as adjusting and getting used to the differences in life here. Over time, the things that used to stress me out, just don't anymore. Praise the Lord! But, as we get ready to head back to the comfortable USA we are also wondering if it will be like taking time off in our marathon training. Meaning, if you take time off, you have to start all over again. The training that you did, that you worked so hard on, you have to do all over again.....we are praying that we won't lose too much of our progress over the next few months we have in the states.

Firsts and lasts...

We are doing a lot of lasts these days, saying goodbyes and finishing up our committments...

We took our workers out for their first time at Kilimanjaro's Cafe. We all ate burgers and drank coke and got an ice cream afterwards. It was a special time for all of us as we learned a lot about their lives, about Zambian culture and what they think of our kids:) They have basically had front row seats into our lives the past 9 months and it hasn't always been pretty. When I asked them who was the biggest troublemaker, they in unison all said (well, I can't tell you in case she reads it, but it starts with the second letter of the alphabet and rhymes with aiden:) They all said that she is a big sweetheart as well, but she definitely is not a stranger at finding trouble! We laughed and shared good memories. It was just a great time together. Lungu ( the first one on the left) is getting married on Monday in a village. We learned a lot about how marriage works here, and we are not quite sure all of the details, but we do know that the groom is supposed to buy a pig and goat for the feast. So, for our wedding present, we bought the pig for a measly 70,000 kwacha! A great story and it made his day!

Today I gave my first final exam on my last day of my Bible Study Methods class. It was a good experience, and I really learned to appreciate what my professors over the years have done for me.

We said goodbye to the orphans at New Horizon that we have been working with. They have been a blessing to us and we are so appreciative of their willingness to love on us.

I said goodbye to the Mwale family. Though I will see Mark again briefly on Thursday, it was great to take a picture of their many kids. It was the first I think of their family (minus the three older brothers). Pastor Mwale has eight of their own kids and they have adopted six more orphans who needed a place to live... He lives what he preaches.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It is more blessed to give than to receive...

Thanks for all you blessed people who gave to provide uniforms for the community school in Mutendere! Click on the picture to see the fruits of your labor! Thanks again!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

NEW Orleans...

So, I've got a buddy (in the white shirt and the bottom right corner) who has an amazing wife and a super cute kid, who has been a mentoree since 6th grade and then an intern and then took over my youth pastor job. We are best of buddies now with lots of memories and good times behind us. He is leaving Crossroads Bible Church youth pastor job and all his family and friends to go and serve in New Orleans with CRM ministries. Now, I love what this ministry is about: Planting churches in the needy areas, doing practical work to build relationships and lastly, training young men and women for a lifetime of missions. So, stopping there, I am proud of my brother and excited for their adventure. But then...

TODAY, I met a woman doctor at the orphanage that I spoke at this morning and she lives and works in New Orleans. I told her about my friend Matt and she was so excited. She loves the city and she said that more people are moving out then moving in. She said that 25 churches in her diocese alone are closing this year. She said there is still so much suicide and sickness due to the stress that was put on the city, even after three years. These things are not talked about but as a doctor she has seen and is seeing it all. So, it was confirmation beyond confirmation that the need is huge and you are indeed sent by God to make a difference in that hurting community. So, Matt and Amy and little Nolan, we send you with joy and pride and lots of love... We are proud of you, we love you and support you!!!

If you want to see their latest news update or want to give to a most worthy cause, check it out here!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hello again...

It has been a while since we wrote, I think a new record. I guess it shows the state we are in trying to get ready to come home. We are packing up and finishing commitments and it just is busy. Two weeks from now we will be on a plane home. Coming home is such a surreal thought that I can't even really put it into words. So, I won't even try.

As for life here in Lusaka, where it has been 75-85 degrees EVERYDAY (and not just one day in Seattle where everyone freaks out:), and we are enjoying our outdoors... We realized that we will have the everlasting summer, going from summer in Bellingham to the September hot season in Africa back home in the summer in June... Not quite what we planned on, but we'll take it.

Some cool happenings as of late... Got an email from a friend who said that they felt led of the Lord to give some money to a pastor or something... Well, it just so happens that I was praying for that very thing, because Pastor Sakala who has planted a church has been really struggling financially and wants to have a job with flexibility so that he could continue pastoring. Well, the money that was given toward this pastor and his five children will enable him to start a hardware business. He was so grateful. I went in to his house to take a picture of his family. He and his five kids sleep in a two roomed house, probably 16x12, all cement. Like I have said once, I'll say it again, "It takes so little to help sooooooo much!" I am hoping to take a picture of his new shop sometime soon...

Many of you know that I have been heading up the AZ Pastor Resource Library. As of now, I have inputted over 800 books into this handy dandy library software program (it has this cool ISBN download feature which goes onto Amazon and grabs a picture and all the specs) and will get some help with the 200 or so more. We have split this these books into five areas around the city. We hope to add in years to come a computer center for Logos Bible Software and a Moody Theological Distance Software which can help people complete a degree online, lots of tapes and MP3's of sermons and more books! The pictures come from Lusaka Theological College where I taught today!!!

I taught the fourth of five four hour classes today. But what was really cool was that two of my students from Garden taught the last part of it and they far exceeded my effectiveness which is part of the strategy, training up Zambians to reach Zambians, to in essence work ourselves out of job! Tracy Singleton, the newest AZ missionary, also came and taught a part of the beginning.

One last thing, I had our last Pastors meeting in Garden on Thursday. I basically told them I wanted them to do the entire inductive study process as a group, as a test of sorts. I came for about 20 minutes and it was thrilling seeming them work and argue and figure out what was the right answer...

So, that is about it for now. I preach tomorrow at a church in Kanyama. We sell our car tomorrow. I teach the leaders of the AZ team how to upkeep the website. We will be having the Garden group over to our house for pizza and pop on Tuesday. We will be giving them some study bibles which had been donated by some friends of mine.

Thanks for your prayers for our family!!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

We had a nice Mother's Day over here in Zambia... They don't really celebrate this holiday, and a bunch of Mzungu's over here got caught off guard, but not us... The girls and their daddy headed down to Game (our version of Walmart) looking for just the perfect gift. We walked down endless aisles, not knowing what to get that would be perfect for our Perfect. Alas, we came to the candy/snack aisle and then it came back... The "it" I am referring to is that tradition for holidays that we would find at the dollar store, where it isn't the price behind the present, but the thought and meaning in the present. And so we went crazy. Daddy bought a "P.S. I love you" candy bar for obvious reasons. Bradyn got Oreos, Julia got Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and Kamryn bought pretzels. And then , to top it off, we got , from all of us, a whisk!!! Oh, yes, eat your heart out! It was fun, and Stephanie has been extra happy the past two days. She is an amazing mom and we look forward to adding to the mom -factor in a few more months.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our Latest Newsletter and some other news...

Greetings from Zambia... I spoke at conference this morning, teaching, you guessed it, Inductive Bible Study and Expository preaching. The reason I keep teaching this over and over again is because I get to teach these pastors and leaders how to study and preach, while studying and preaching through new passages that directly correlate to pastoring. It is a subtle way to help them discover what the Scriptures say about being a pastor while they learn how to study and preach as a pastor. Today we studied the verses from Col. 3:23-24 - "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, [24] since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." I heard some great feedback from a few pastors who had never considered that the every day jobs that they do to support their families could be done for God and earn a reward. It was really encouraging to hear that. On the way home from the conference today, there were two pastors in the back seat of my car. After driving for a bit in silence, I asked why they were so quiet. The one pastor said that he was just thinking about my sermon, and said it was really powerful. The other went on to recite to me the expository method that I had just taught them. So, praise God that he can use a weak, hearing impaired, gluten-intolerant and language-stunted servant to encourage these pastors!!
Thanks to some donations from people like ya'll, I was able to give out 150 concordances yesterday to some very excited pastors. This afternoon, my star student Pastor Zulu, taught inductive study and expository preaching to six pastors in Kalikiliki (cool name, huh?). It was the first time where he did the entire conference while I watched. It went really well, as both the pastors and Pastor Zulu enjoyed the experience. Tommorow, I will be teaching at the Bible College on Bible Study Methods. Busy days, but I love it!
We are looking forward to coming home in almost three weeks, and we covet your prayers as we prepare for our time there. We are finishing up on some commitments that we have here, including finishing up the Pastor Resource center, preparing videos to show back home and packing stuff away. Stephanie is bringing homeschool to a close and tying up loose ends in her world as well. She is feeling well despite being continually tired. The kids are doing well, excited about coming home but knowing they are going to miss Africa as well. It has been an amazing nine months and we feel like we have been born again in many ways. We look forward to sharing these experiences with you all soon.
In case you haven't heard, we will be arriving on June 1st, if the Lord is good with our plan . I (Steve) will be speaking on Saturday night, June 7, at Crossroads Bible Church and we will be at the Sunday service on June 8. I will then speak to the Northlake youth on Tuesday, June 10. We will be back at Northlake on June 15. We look forward to reuniting with those who are there and look forward to catching up this summer.
In case you did not receive our last newsletter,I just wanted to let you know that our latest newsletter can be found right here! This is the same newsletter that you received in the mail, but just in case you wanted to see it again, we oblige!

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Conference weekend...

I spoke at conference this morning, teaching, you guessed it, Inductive Study and Expository preaching. Why I keep teaching this over and over again is because I get to teach them how to study and preach, while studying and preaching through new passages that directly correlate to pastoring. It is like they discover what the scriptures say about being a pastor while they learn how to study and preach as a pastor. Today we did the verse from Col. 3:23-24 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, [24] since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyway, today, due to some donations from people like ya'll, I was able to give out 150 concordances today and were they ever happy. I speak at this same location tommorrow and then in the afternoon speak at a place in Kalikiliki (cool name, huh?). On Saturday, I will be teaching at the Bible College. Thanks for your prayers!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An important article to read...

I found this article at this blog: I think you will find it a important read. Thanks for your support!

The Weakened Dollar and Missionaries

When I came back from Prague I meant to write about the drastic effect of the falling dollar on missionaries serving overseas. To give some perspective, the first time we went to Prague (November 2006) the exchange rate was 24 Czech crowns to the dollar. Now it’s about 15, which means the dollar is about 30% weaker than it was 18 months ago, which means everything costs about 30% more if you’re being paid in dollars.

Anyway, I now no longer need to write this because Sunday the Charlotte Observer beat me to it, profiling none other than my future boss Phil Davis, pastor of Faith Community Church in Prague. Read the article, and be sure to look at the pictures– the Davises are a good-looking bunch.

For those of us in the States, a few action items to think about:

  • Pray (regularly!) for the dollar to regain its strength. This is affecting lots of missionaries all over the world, and they’d rather be focusing on ministry than trying to build their support back up.
  • If you have missionaries you regularly support, consider trying to raise your monthly pledge to help with their added costs. Where could you trim from your budget to help them out? Think of it as a move of wartime efficiency to get the troops in the field what they need.
  • If you’re not regularly supporting any missionaries, this would be a great time to start, as nearly all of them are feeling the crunch.

Our God is sovereign over all things, including currency exchange rates. Let’s pray that he will work quickly on behalf of his workers in the fields.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Happy Ending...

I got a call this morning at 6:30 am...

"Congratulations, we have a baby!" Daka, our worker, said to me on the phone.

I asked if it was a boy or girl and he said, "Baby Boy!"

I asked about the name, and he didn't tell me. We found out later that they didn't have a name, yet.

The baby Daka was born at 23:40 (or 11:40 p.m.) in the dark by the light of eight candles that were purchased. Crazy.

We went to go see the baby at the hospital at 10 am just 10 hours after having the baby. We pictured us walking into the hospital room to see the baby. But, Daka stopped us outside the hospital and then said they were discharging her and we were going to give them a ride home:)

Sure enough, just 10 hours after having the baby, Daka's wife walks out, and Daka was holding the baby with a big smile on his face... Daka's wife wasn't so smiley.

We drove them home and took some pictures. It is cultural to keep the baby bundled up in many blankets, so the face picture was a good as we could get.

I also took a picture of what was happening behind the scenes, the hordes of kids that were gathering around watching us take pictures of the baby. It is not very often that Mzungu blond girls are walking in the heart of the compound:)

Lastly, as we were saying goodbye, Daka pulled me aside and asked if he could borrow 50,000 kwacha for mealie (the corn staple food). He said, "I used my 50 that I would by mealie to pay for the hospital visit." I am not sure if 50,000 kwacha (or $13) is all it cost to have a baby, but I wouldn't be surprised.

A fun cultural experience complete with a happy ending!

Monday, May 05, 2008

You never know what is going to happen in Zambia...

You never really know what to expect in Zambia. On the way home from a friends house for dinner, we got a call from Daka, our guard. Now is the time! His wife "doesn't feel well" and they need a ride to the hospital, because the baby is ready to come out! So, we got back, and since he was working, I gave him a ride to his house in the Garden Compound. He went into get his wife, and she came out walking ever so gingerly with her mom in tow. They live on a pretty bumpy road, and I offered to drive the long way around so it would be smoother, but Daka said, "No, this is a shortcut." So, how do you drive on a bumpy road with a woman who is ready to give birth in your backseat. Well, apparently I was driving too slow because when I asked Daka if should go faster, he said, with urgency in his voice, "Drive faster!" So faster I drove and bumpier it got! But, we made it to the clinic to find that it was pitch dark. The rudimentary hospital was having its load shared at the wrong time. I dropped them off and and then found a parking spot. The hallway was lit by one lone candle. Daka sat in the hallway while his wife and mother in law went inside. I asked if the father was supposed to say outside to which he said yes... Crazy, huh? He shared with me that both his cell phone battery was dead and he was out of talk time (cell phone are pre-paid!) So, I sent him some time and let him have my battery. A few minutes later his mother-in-law came out, asking for 5 pin (5,000 kwacha). I didn't really know what for, but all I had a was a 50,000. So, Daka takes it and out he goes. He comes back with 8 candles. I just contributed to the light for the birth. Seriously, this place is BYOC (bring your own candles.) A few minutes later I heard this woman screaming (anesthesia, what's that?) and then I heard a baby crying. Alas, it wasn't Daka's, because a few minutes later Daka's mother came out and said, "Let's go" to Daka in Nyanga and I took them back to their house. I guess they just leave mother's who are about to have a baby in a dark hospital by themselves in Zambia. Crazy. I'll keep you posted tomorrow about what happened.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I thought I would share this email from the Burns Family, an Action Missionary in Malawi...
Talk about gaining some perspective on life...

Dear Friends,
We need your prayers for wisdom, peace, patience, strength. Our hearts are so heavy with sorrow for the suffering we see all around us. Let me share just a brief picture.....
Maize is being milled. (It is the staple food in Malawi, eaten daily. It is a white field corn, cooked with water until thick enough to eat with your fingers.) There isn't much, as we are facing one of the worst harvests in recent memory. Food costs have risen 30% in the past year, and maize has gone from $6 per bag to $16. Outside the mill, an elderly grandma with a baby on her back, is sweeping up the maize dust and husks that are left over. It is mixed with dirt, but it is the only food her and the baby will have that day.
We have been assisting a 15 year old orphan that is physically and mentally handicapped. A few weeks ago, she was "hurt," and is now pregnant. The man is in prison.
A new pastor was just elected to begin working with a church that has never had a trained pastor before. He is now receiving death threats from an anonymous source, demanding he leave. Many believe the threats are not from the local witchdoctor, but from the previous leader of the church, who is upset to have lost his position of power.
A dear friend and his wife were recently diagnosed with HIV. They are in their mid twenties and have 1 child left alive. He is so ill with severe pneumonia that he has been in the hospital for the past week, and has lost so much weight, he is not even a shadow of his former self. After he is discharged, he is needing ARV's to keep the AIDS at bay, and possibly live a dozen more years. However, there is a waiting list for the meds he needs, and he will not be able to wait. Word in the village is that he was cursed for working with us!
A woman was killed in a traffic accident. The twins she was pregnant with were saved. Saved, but orphaned before they were even born!
So much hunger, pain, loneliness, fear, poverty. Will you pray with us that our hearts and minds not be overwhelmed or dwell on the suffering we witness each day? Will you pray that through the tears, we faithfully and clearly point to the only Source of Hope and Comfort?
Just think: The Carpenter of Nazareth, the Creator of the universe, has said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14;2
A time of rejoicing and celebration is coming! New clothing and a feast are being prepared (Rev 19: 6-8)! God Himself "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more crying or pain..To him who is thirsty I (God) will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son (Rev 21:4, 6-7)."
New clothes, feasting, a home and a family! Jesus! Just thinking about what He is preparing for us has lifted my heart! Oh, come quickly, Lord!
Waiting and working in the harvest fields of Malawi,
Chet and LeAnne Burns

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gratitude is a goat

Last Sunday, I was supposed to preach in a village... Stephanie was up all night with a bad stomachache, and I so I called my teammate, Brent Roberts to fill in for me. Here are the rest of the incredible details... Check it out!

For those of you who have been waiting for the best of the best of blog posts, this is it! This past Sunday, Steve Allen, who is another missionary on our team called me with a request. His wife Stephanie had been up all night sick and needed rest. He was scheduled to preach that morning, but thought it would be better to stay at home with her and the children. So, whom did he think of as a last minute stand-in? You guessed it, little ole me. I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, or maybe someone had slipped something into his coffee when he wasn’t looking, but he requested that I fill in for him.

For those of you who don’t remember my blog post about 2 weeks ago, let me refresh your memory. I’ve only preached one sermon and that was 2 weeks ago. This of course was the first excuse I threw Steve's way, but he calmly reminded me that this was a different church. So, it was probably ok to use the same sermon. Then I threw out another excuse of not having a car to drive, which he countered with letting me drive his cruiser. As he told me later, God had a plan for my life and he (Steve) was telling me what it was… So, hesitantly, I accepted and oh what a blessing it was.

On the way there, I stopped to pick up Mark Mwale, a pastor of a church here in Lusaka. He had arranged for Steve to preach at the village and was responsible for making sure I showed up at the right place. After picking he, his son and wife up, we headed north towards a village on the outskirts of Lusaka. After driving for about 20 minutes, we turned off of the highway onto an unkempt dirt road and then preceded about 1/2 a mile out into the “Bush.”

The church was a small mud brick structure with a thatch roof. One of the elders was waiting outside to greet us and welcomed us as we drove in. When we got out of the car, we were immediately ushered into the church. Inside, were pews, which were also made out of the same mud brick that was used to construct the church. About every 10 feet, there were wooden planks stretching from dirt floor to thatch roof ceiling. Up at the front of the church, there was a stage, which acted as a pulpit. This is where we sat before & during the service.

As we waited for the service to begin, I just didn't think that many people would show up. I envisioned preaching to an audience of about five. As the time neared 10:30, though, I was proven wrong. Villagers began flowing into this small church building, so much that by the time the service started, there were a little over 70 in attendance.

The service started with praise and worship, which truly was a blessing to me. Those in attendance worshiped in their native tongues, Bemba and Nyanja. And they worshipped with fervor. They sang, danced, and shouted their praises to God. As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think of how the Bible depicts the scene in Revelations when God will be worshipped by every tribe, language, people & nation.

After worship, the pastor introduced me to the congregation and invited me up to preach. The sermon that I preached was no different from the first sermon I preached two weeks prior, but the results were... I preached on 1 John 1:5-7 and shared about how God desires for us to walk in the light. I shared how God desires that we live holy and upright lives, but that even when we make mistakes, we should seek to allow God’s light to expose our sins instead of us trying to cover them up.

At the end of the sermon, we had a time of prayer. I challenged them to ask the Lord to examine their hearts and reveal to them areas where they had fallen short in their relationship with the Him. As I sat there praying for myself, the Spirit began to move to the extent that one of the ladies in attendance just began to wail. As she cried out to God, others also began to audibly pray. It was truly a blessing to see the Lord at work, even through the message given by a sinner like me.

After the time of prayer, I finished the rest of the sermon and then we celebrated the renewing power of the Cross through more worship. It was truly an experience I will never forget.


It gets even better. After the last worship songs were sung, the worship leader had me come up front along with Pastor Mwale. He presented us with gifts that were brought to the church by the villagers in attendance. As we stood up front, person after person came in through the side door of the church bringing food from his or her own harvest. They brought a plethora of assorted fruits and vegetables (African squash, Chinese cabbage, potatoes and bananas). The shocker was in the last gift brought in, a GOAT! Yeap, a real live goat! In all my life, I never thought I would be given a goat as a gift for sharing God’s word.

As we prepared to leave, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the generosity of these villagers. These men and women, who struggle for daily existence, went out of their way to welcome me and provide me with gifts, which to them were a great sacrifice. And they did it with Joy! It was so humbling being in fellowship with them this day and truly blessed my soul to the core!

Pastor's Conference

I can't tell you what a delight it is to spend time with the pastors at Chaisa. The last time I was there was, I think, October or November. I wrote about this experience in my blog and a few people felt led by the Lord to give money to purchase Bibles. Well, after months of trying to get the money here, getting a check from Action Zambia, and five months waiting for the order to be delivered from South Africa, they have just finally arrived. (Well, actually the concordances were stuck at the airport, so we will give them out next week!) But, I can't describe how appreciative or desperate they were for the Bibles. It was something to behold.

There were over 100 pastors and leaders who spent all day listening as we reviewed inductive bible study and then taught them how to do expository preaching. The most exciting part of the day for me, though, was watching Pastor Peter Zulu do a bulk of the teaching. At one point, when the power went down, and I couldn't use the computer, I asked him to explain a part of the process which I knew he understood. He spoke for about 45 minutes and it was really great to watch him speak with confidence and authority. He will do an entire conference next week and I will be his assistant:)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

According to plan...

Today I went to the church conference. Now, I understand the Zambian time difference, but this was a bit over the top. I got there at 9:00 am and the conference finally started at 11:00am. I just sat on the couch, somewhat talking a with a few pastors and reading some and watching some cheesy Zambian TV. But, it was redeemed! Not that talking with pastors is unredeemable, but everyone felt a bit awkward as the time just get going on and on. But that time was made worth it, at least in my time-oriented eyes by a young man, a secretary at the church, but also an aspiring pastor. Out of the blue he asked me how do you become a pastor or how do you know if you should be a pastor... This was like minutes before 11am... I went through a bunch of verses. We had a great time of connecting, and it made my day. The talk went well. As the picture shows, it was just a small group, but it fit the context of what I was saying, and it was good to be there.

In the afternoon, I met with my pastor's group! A good time was had by all as we are winding down and covering lots of different stuff. One of the pastors, Peter Zulu(Peter is the one in the middle with the white shirt!) went last week to the village to teach, get this, Inductive Bible Study. Yes, he taught at a conference for 80 pastors how to do inductive study. It was really cool to see a pastor not only understanding what he is learning from me, but then able to pass it on to other pastors. Isn't that great? What an encouragement. Next week, I have a conference in Kalikliki and I am going to let him and his brother do the whole thing while I smile and thank God for the gift of cool pastors like these guys to work with.